The much-vaunted European electricity supergrid, supposed to assist the birth of a low-carbon electricity future by making renewable power from the wind-blown north and sun-soaked south flow seamlessly across the continent, is moving at a snail’s pace as political will withers and economies ebb. Renewable energy industry participants are taking tentative steps, but they are hampered by the shifting economic and political landscape as the global economic downturn shows no sign of evaporating and the homegrown European financial crisis seems to get more entrenched with every move to end it.
The Senate’s top tax writer emerged from a closed-door session last night “very encouraged” that lawmakers would be able to agree on a package to extend a variety of temporary tax breaks that expired last year or are set to do so this year, although the contents of such a package and timing to get it to the floor remain in flux.
Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is convening a closed-door meeting this afternoon to hear committee members’ views on a variety of temporary tax measures that have expired or are scheduled to sunset at the end of this year, including a key wind industry tax break. It is the second such meeting Baucus has convened this summer to discuss the fate of the “tax extenders,” among other issues on the committee’s plate. A meeting last month produced some optimism but few concrete breakthroughs (E&E Daily, June 13)
More and more travel companies are pivoting toward wind and solar power as a way to cut costs in the long term. The Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is joining the trend by installing 40-foot wind turbines on its high-rise roof. Through the installation, the Florida resort plans to generate 5 to 10 percent of its power.
The Department of Energy has broken ground for a first-of-its-kind wind turbine testing center in Lubbock, Texas. The Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWIFT) facility will test wind turbines in real-world conditions to optimize existing generator designs and come up with new ones. Funded in part by a $2.6 million grant from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the project will be operated by Sandia National Laboratories and Texas Tech University.
The United States is experiencing the most widespread drought in more than 50 years, and experts say it is only going to get worse. Record-high temperatures have caused wildfires, depleted municipal water supplies and destroyed crops, and they will likely slow an already struggling economy as food and shipping prices rise.
Only half of the U.S. regions with state renewable energy mandates will meet their 2020 goals for wind, solar and biomass generation, a new assessment by the IHS CERA consulting firm concludes.
This year is expected to produce the peak of renewable power development in the decade, said Sharon Reishus, a CERA senior director and former head of the Maine Public Service Commission. Developers are “madly building” to complete wind projects in case the federal production tax credit is not renewed at year’s end, said Reishus, who spoke at the summer meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners here.
The federal government is poised to auction to wind farm developers 2,434 square miles of the continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean, which would allow wind farms to sprout 10 miles off the shores of six states, from Massachusetts to Virginia. Extensive efforts are underway to avoid the fiasco of the first proposed offshore wind farm in U.S. waters. That 24-square mile project off the coast of Cape Cod unleashed a fierce, decade-long battle that still lingers in the courts. Although Europe has had offshore wind farms for many years, the United States remains without even one.
Fishermen’s Energy has received the final permit needed to start building an offshore wind farm off the Atlantic City, N.J., coast. The Cape May, N.J.-based company received the permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Former Secretary of State George Shultz is preparing to promote a carbon tax, putting him in the company of a small cluster of Republican statesmen who are embracing efforts to reduce greenhouse gases that their party has rejected. Shultz, who spent nearly seven years in President Reagan’s Cabinet, says a carbon tax that returns its revenue to taxpayers and public programs could eventually be accepted by the Republican Party, despite its current hostile outlook on measures that reduce emissions.